This time, JPH switched it up on me a bit. Not only was this particular pick a non-fiction, this one was an audio book. The book? Trucker Ghost Stories: And Other True Tales of Haunted Highways, Weird Encounters, and Legends of the Road as edited by Annie Wilder and told by Tavia Gilbert and Peter Ganim.
Let me preface this by saying simply: I love ghost stories. I firmly believe in ghosts and their reality in our world. It’s something I’ve believed in since I was little and have never wavered or thought differently. Hearing true ghost stories and legends has always been a favorite past-time and I’ve even enjoyed a bit of paranormal hunting and research in my day. When I first saw the dark red truck on the cover, I was beyond excited: I was giddy. The introduction on the first disk was interesting, alluding to the stories by primarily non-believers and skeptics about to unfold to my ears. I wish I could have stayed in that moment.
The Book Itself
I can’t discredit everything about this book, I was just highly disappointed in its editing and execution. The stories were submitted by the truckers themselves and hardly clarified. The grammar was not always 100% and, while it was an attempt at regional authenticity, I found it detracting and distracting as I attempted to get sucked into the stories. (Also, did you notice the title? That’s been driving me insane since day one.) Most of the stories were so brief I found it impossible to get into them as I wished, and the one that was, perhaps, the most detailed, seemed to drag on for ages of disappointment.
Probably the biggest problem I had with the book is it was not as promised. The title (and the introduction) talk about the tales being from truckers and the road. On many of them, there was little relation to either. One in particular involved a car parked in a parking lot. The tale was not told by anyone who had ever been a trucker, and it didn’t even involve travelling or more black top than at your local grocery store. I probably wouldn’t have had as big of an issue had that been the only case.
I also probably wouldn’t have had issue if the stories were actually told by those “non-believers” and “skeptics.” Several of the stories were from “professionals” in the paranormal world or from writers of other novels on the topic. One of the stories was even an excerpt! I understand the concept of promotion (trust me, I’m always trying to push this awesome website of ours), but there are some things which are tacky and cross the thin line between self-promotion and shameless self-promotion.
And, finally, my last big problem with the book itself? It was boring. Yes, a few of the stories were unique and drew me in but, all in all, it wasn’t that exciting or interesting. Many of the stories I’ve heard hundreds of times. When there’s a Supernatural episode about your legend, well, we all know it and we really don’t need to hear it again (and, seriously, hasn’t even Law and Order covered the “Lover’s Lane” thing?).
Okay, so I don’t usually talk about the format of a book but, with an audio book, it’s a totally separate thing you really need to consider in a review. Probably the most important consideration in this format should be your voice actors. Secondly, if you’re going to have more than one, you need to decide a system for each actor to read parts differently.
I think they missed on both counts, here. Well, it was about a 40% success on the first of my criteria. I really didn’t feel that Miss Gilbert’s talents were a good match for a horror genre book. Her cadence was odd for the intended creeping pace, and her accents for the different regions were abysmal. Maybe I’m picky, but they were often more comedy than drama. In that sense, as well, Mr. Ganim didn’t do great, either. But, I looked forward to his voice every time I was stuck with the overly feminine version of a very masculine trucker.
Probably the best part of the audio format of this particular book was Mr. Ganim. He had an Orson Wellian quality to his voice which fit well with the genre. His pacing was exquisite and drew you into the emotion. It’s truly unfortunate they did not allow him to perform more often on this book.
Another unfortunate thing was the choice of which actors performed at what points on the disk. There appeared no true pattern, and I would have loved to have seen one. I think it might have been better to have a female reading for women and a male for men. I’m not implying that a male cannot do justice to a female voice or vice versa (after all, have you heard the Harry Potter audio books voiced by Jim Dale?!), I’m simply implying it would have fit given the talents of the two voice actors.
All in all, I’m not sure I would spend the money on it. I’d prefer the audio format to a regular book, in this instance, especially due to the nature of the stories. It’s not bad for a long drive if you’re not feeling partial to the radio. I’m looking for alternatives, though, and I’ll let you know when I get a favorite.